Hand: Main Hand, BL Cotton Augustus ii.57

Main Hand
BL Cotton Augustus ii.57
Saec. xi

Stokes, English Vernacular Script, ca 990–ca 1035, Vol. 2 (PhD Thesis, University of Cambridge, 2006)

This script has been described as ‘featureless’ and probably written in imitative script during the eleventh century.Lapidge, Anglo-Latin Literature, 900–1066, p. 186 n. 22; cf. Dumville, ‘English Square Minuscule: Mid-Century Phases’, p. 146 n. 71. The script is relatively light, has little shading, and is slightly forward-leaning. Ascenders are relatively short, no longer than minims and often shorter, and have heavy triangular wedges. Descenders are somewhat longer, about the length of minims, and are essentially straight; they can be a little shaky, however, and were often written with two overlapping strokes, the first between cue-height and base-line, and the second starting at cue-height but reaching down a full descender-length. Minims have prominent wedges and small, horizontal feet; the bodies of letters can be relatively narrow, but strokes are somewhat rounded. Straight-topped a is found throughout, the top usually angled at about 45° and the sides usually straight, but horned a is also found. A similar straight-topped form was used for æ, although the shape here is narrower and sometimes more rounded and essentially teardrop; the tongue is horizontal and fairly high, and the hook is rounded and can reach above cue-height, though not to ascender-height, in a closed ligature with following minims, descenders, a, c, or t. Though not usually horned, the back of c can extend slightly beyond the hook, and the lower stroke can also be fairly straight through the letter’s south-west quadrant. The back of d is straight, moderately long, and angled at about 30°. Horned e is found most often, although the round form was sometimes used; the back of horned e is usually quite upright, and the tongue, hook, and ligature are like those of æ. The tongue of f is ~-shaped and very long. The top of g is usually concave up and very short, and the mid-section is fairly rounded and swells out to the left before turning into a round open hook. Tall i is found initially, particularly with in and its compounds, even without preceding punctuation. The lower branch of k does not quite reach down to the base-line, and the upper branch starts close to upright and turns out to the right. The shoulders of h, m, n, and r all start well below cue-height, turn over in a fairly rounded and somewhat swollen stroke, and then descend in a straight stroke to the base-line. The descender of r is often shorter than that of other letters. The north-east quadrant of o can be slightly open, and the letter can have a small horn. Long, low, and round s are found. Round s is infrequent in Old English and is only found initially (suðtun, se), but low and long forms are used with little distinction, the latter found finally as well as medially and initially. Low s can be deeply split, the fork branching from at or below the base-line and rising very close to the descender before turning out at the top. A low, rounded ligature is also found with long s and following t or wynn. The top of t can extend well to the left, and the toe usually has a small finishing-stroke added which looks like the turned-down form. The scribe generally followed the conventional distinction between þ and ð but used the latter for ðæs, ðonne, and related forms. The ascender of þ is usually shorter than that of other letters. The back of ð is long, straight, and angled at about 30°, and the through-stroke is long, thin, angled quite steeply, and is normally straight. An unusual form of x was used: the north-west branch reaches above cue-height, turns over to the left, and is heavily wedged, the north-east branch turns out to the right, the south-east branch turns up at the base-line, and the south-west branch is straight and descends well below the base-line. Straight-limbed, round, and f-shaped y are all found, all without dots. Both branches of straight-limbed y are hooked left, the tail of round y is short, and f-shaped y is infrequent. Latin is not generally distinguished in script, except that cc a and straight-backed d were used, and round s is more common. The bowl of straight-backed d was formed like the body of a, with a straight rising top, and a left side turned out slightly and therefore horned.

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